As we approach the new era of Star Wars on film, Lucasfilm is making a concentrated effort to diversify the saga's cast of characters. One of their top priorities seems to be increasing the franchise's appeal with female audiences, illustrated by the third and final Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer painting Episode VII as Rey's (Daisy Ridley) story.
But what if Rey isn't the only new female to have a primary role in Star Wars 7? One of the new characters that's been very prevalent in marketing is droid BB-8, who is already a fan-favorite. Many have just assumed that the little robot - like R2-D2 and C-3PO before - would be classified as a "he," but a new report indicates that BB-8 is actually a girl.
The news comes courtesy of Mirror who are citing unnamed sources claiming that since "there has never been a strong female robot in any Star Wars film," Abrams was committed to making BB-8 a girl droid. It's also implied that BB-8's unique soccer ball design was made specifically to appeal to girls. Obviously, it's important for readers to take the details with a grain of salt here. So far, there's been nothing official to indicate BB-8's gender (if droids have such a thing).
Regardless, the second portion of Mirror's report is far more interesting. They also say that BB-8 plays a "pivotal" role in Force Awakens, which is something many have gathered from the character's frequent appearances in the trailers. A rumored opening sequence from months ago indicated that BB-8 holds a valuable item that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is after and is the driving force for the narrative. We also learned from today's new Star Wars 7 international trailer that BB-8 is not actually Rey's droid but a droid she discovers during the course of the movie.
In this scenario, the similarities to R2-D2 in the 1977 original are very clear; BB-8 is the droid The First Order is looking for so they can gain an upper hand on the Resistance. It will be interesting to see how many homages to the classic trilogy Abrams incorporates in his film (there's also strong parallels between Rey and Luke). Star Wars 7 is obviously banking on nostalgia, but finding the right balance between the old and the new will help it stand on its own and not come off as derivative.
Fortunately, this shouldn't be too great of a concern. From what we've seen, Lucasfilm is doing their part in keeping things fresh, and there are still plenty of mysteries left to solve. If reaction to the movie's trailers are anything to go by, The Force Awakens is shaping up to be a rousing space adventure in the vein of the beloved originals.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.